A great number of public hotspots and internet cafes has appeared recently. It’s great to surf the net at public places, while drinking morning coffee or waiting for the airplane. But have you thought about security?
Most public Wi-Fi hotspots are insecure. That means that anyone in the same wireless network can capture the data you send or receive on the net: your e-mails, your passwords, your files – virtually anything. Even if a hotspot looks like secure and has encryption enabled, it’s owner, or admin, or a hacker can do the nasty things mentioned above. Would you like your data to be stolen? Or you’d like to become a paranoid and don’t do anything on the public net except for reading news? Nobody wants.
One of the best solutions to make yourself safe and secure on the Internet is using Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunneling.
How VPN works
Your computer establishes a direct link with the VPN server. The link is heavily encrypted, which makes it useless to intercept it. Even if someone captures your VPN connection, he’ll only get a bunch of useless data, which is virtually impossible to decrypt. And the great thing is that you get a full access to the Internet, which could not be sniffed by anyone – hackers, hotspot owners, technicians from your ISP, even government. It also hides your IP address on the Net, so nobody, neither bad guys nor website owners can find your location.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, let’s mention countries which practice Internet censorship. The biggest is China, which has more world wide web users than US population is. Some of the most popular resources, such as YouTube, Facebook and even Wikipedia are blocked in China. And guess what, VPN is being used by lots of Chinese people, helping them to bypass the limitations, the so-called Great China Firewall set by their communist government. Yes, they have full access the Internet, they can send any information they want, etc. And nobody can track them!
When VPN started
Historically, secure data transfer channel has been created by laying out a cable, that was physically secured from data interception — for example it was located in out-of-the-way places or sensors were set up to control the access to the cable. The cost of such solutions was way too high even for closely located objects.
In case when remote users from different countries or distant parts of the county had to be connected the cost simply skyrocketed. Therefore only such organizations as military or large corporations could afford these kind of communications.
On the other hand, last decades of XX century are known for the dynamic development of Internet – connection speed was increasing extremely, more and more new territories were covered. In the end you could set an Internet connection between any two spots on the Earth. Still the information transferred was no secret to an intruder. The data could be intercepted , changed or simply stolen.
That was the moment when the idea of creating a secure data channel has started to gain its popularity. This channel was meant to operate in public network space, but it incorporated two features, encryption and tunneling, which ensured that the data is delivered safely and privately across the public space. The cost of such channel was several times less than the cost of laying out a physically hard-to-reach channel, which made it affordable not only to small- and medium-sized businesses, but also to individuals.
What is VPN
VPN (Virtual Private Network) – is a technology, that allows to set up one or several network connections (a logical net) over the other network (the Internet). Although the reliability of public network is not high enough, it does not in any way influence the reliability of the logical net due to the use of different encryption methods (encoding, data authentication, public and private key management, protection against replays and ciphertext creation).
In other words VPN is your personal secured connection to a website, e-mail, chat, payment system and others via VPN provider server. Besides all the data is encrypted.
Types of VPN connection
Intranet VPN is used to bridge distant subsidiaries of a company, that exchange data using open communication channel.
Remote Access VPN creates a protected channel between the corporate network segment (central office or a subsidiary) and a remote user. This type of VPN permits those, who work at home connect to corporate resources from a local computer, a laptop, a smartphone or from an internet caf?.
Extranet VPN is meant for external users (could be your business partners or clients) that may not be fully trusted, but have to work in a shared environment. They therefore gain secure access to specific data / resources, while not gaining access to valuable corporate information.
Internet VPN is used by providers to give access to the Internet. This is usually done when several users connect to one gateway.
Client/Server VPN secures data during transmission between two corporate network nodes (not networks). It is a specific process, because VPN is created between nodes, that are situated in same network segment, between a working station and a server, for instance. This way it allows to create several logical networks in one particular physical network. It could be applied, when you need to separate financial and personnel department traffic connected to a server in the same physical segment. This case is similar to VLAN technology, but instead of segmenting traffic, it is being encoded.